Is it safe to travel to Italy?

Italy is a hugely popular holiday destination, with nearly 60 million tourists travelling within its borders each year. In terms of safety, Italy is a mostly safe place to travel, with tourist infrastructure and essential services readily available if anything goes wrong. There are, however, a few things to keep an eye out for when visiting.

Safety in public places

The main thing to be aware of in Italy is petty theft. These small-scale crimes, including pickpocketing and bag snatching, mainly occur in crowded tourist hotspots in Rome, Florence and Venice. Be vigilant about your belongings and leave expensive watches or jewellery at home.

If you happen to travel on the Circumvesuviana train network between Naples and Sorrento, be vigilant. Beggars and pickpockets regularly frequent this route, and often the trains are standing room only, making it easy for petty theft to occur.

There are also quite a few scams that tourists may find themselves caught in. Some locals in high-touristed areas sell counterfeit leather goods and ‘designer’ products, so be wary of what you are buying – if you are found purchasing counterfeit items, you could be fined thousands of euros!

Beggars are a widespread problem throughout Italy, notably older Romani women who may be carrying young children. In the vast majority of cases, they are part of a large syndicated network of beggars and are being exploited – hardly any money is going to the beggars themselves. Babies are often sedated to prey on tourists’ guilt, and if you do begin to interact and don't give money, beggars may become aggressive. If you wish to give to charitable causes in Italy, do your research before you arrive and only donate to reputable organizations.

Many travellers who haven’t been to Italy think the Mafia is a huge problem in the region. This is largely incorrect – although there is Mafia activity in Naples and Sicily, in particular, it almost never involves travellers.

Natural disasters in Italy are irregular but do occur and can be dangerous. There are three main active volcanoes around the country – Mt Etna in Sicily, Mt Stromboli on the island of Stromboli, and Mt Vesuvius near Naples – and if eruptions occur, they can disrupt travel plans. Venice is prone to flooding, especially in early winter (November-December), when rainfall is high and the lagoon swells at high tide. Low-lying areas in Venice, such as Piazza San Marco, often flood at high tide, so follow local warnings when travelling during this time.

Safety as a solo or female traveller

Normal safety precautions exist for travellers who are visiting Italy by themselves. When walking at night, keep to well-lit, high-traffic areas. Be wary of non-legitimate taxis and take normal safety precautions if using ridesharing services in Rome and Milan.

Women may attract unwanted attention and catcalling from local men, especially at night in Bologna, Florence and Milan, yelling out ‘ciao bella’ ('hello beautiful') to receive a response. Ignoring the situation and walking away will almost always stop the catcalling.

Read more about solo travel with Intrepid

Tips for staying safe in Italy

  • Don’t advertise wealth with excessive jewellery when in public
  • Be aware in busy markets, piazzas and on public transport
  • Watch your belongings in busy tourist areas
  • Beware of beggars

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